Monday Memo – December 5, 2016

MEMO TO: Staff Reps
COPIES TO: STA Executive Committee
FROM: Gioia Breda, President
Date: December 5, 2016


BCTF Update on Implementation of Language Restored by Court Win
When the BCTF won its appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada, the court ordered that the language stripped from our collective agreement in 2002 be restored immediately. The BCTF has been engaged in discussions with representatives of various government bodies regarding implementation of the court’s decision. Two meetings have taken place so far, and more are planned. The BCTF position has been clear: the language is restored, and needs to be implemented as quickly as possible. Our goal is for implementation to take place by the end of January, 2017. The BCTF will be providing updates to members over the next few weeks about the progress of talks.

Film Night at the STA– Thursday December 8th
The Status of Women Committee invite STA members to attend a showing of the film called “Until The Violence Stops”, a look at productions of the Vagina Monologues around the world, and how these productions are used to raise awareness to prevent violence against women. There is an informative preview of the film on YouTube. Please RSVP by emailing Dana at Come to the STA after school: 3:30 pm – 6 pm. See section below (Seeds of Social Justice) for more information about 16 Days of Action for Ending Violence against Women.

Snow Day Information
With snow in the forecast for next week it is time to remind ourselves about snow policy and procedures. Whenever it snows, the STA office receives inquiries from teachers about what processes should be put in place at schools and what to do if it is difficult to travel to work. The STA website has detailed information on snow and snow days, which you can look at here: Below the article is a link to School District 36 policy and procedures including a checklist for administrators to use to help them determine whether or not to close their school site. Where possible, a teacher at each school site should participate in filling out this checklist. This could be one of the teachers who lives closest to the school, for example.

Please listen to the early news for weather reports. School closures are announced on CKNW and on News 1130. If schools are closed, they are closed for students only and staff is expected to report to work unless otherwise directed. Employees, though, have the right and the responsibility to determine whether attempting to attend their school site in severe weather conditions could compromise their safety; their personal decision supersedes any district determinations regarding cancellation of classes. If you have questions or concerns, please contact STA Health & Safety Officer, Kristine Olsen.

FSA Presentation to Board of Trustees–December 8
We will be presenting information about the impact of the FSA to trustees on December 8. All interested teachers, students, and parents are invited to attend the upcoming Board of Education meeting where we will be encouraging trustees to respect parents’ choice in whether their child writes the FSA. Please contact 1st Vice President Laura Barker at for more information, and ways to support your students and school community on this issue.

BCTF’s response to Minister Bernier’s Letter regarding the FSA
Glen Hansman, President of the BCTF, wrote to Mike Bernier, Minister of Education, in response to the Minister’s letter to parents regarding the Foundational Skills Assessment. He challenged the Minister’s implication that FSA results would give parents an accurate sense of their children’s learning, or would be used to inform instruction. Rather, as Glen wrote:

“Teachers are professionals who use a broad range of assessments every day and communicate regularly with parents about their child’s learning. To suggest otherwise belittles teachers’ work. Parents would be better served by encouraging them to reach out to their child’s teacher to discuss all of the hard work and assessments happening in classrooms every day.”

Only a week earlier, the Minister of Education confirmed that the province will not be adopting the recommendation from the Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment that FSA school and student data should be protected from misuse by third parties. As a result, the BCTF will not be in a position to be reinstating members on the development teams for the FSA or the Provincial Exams?and the Federation will continue its opposition to the FSAs.

New STA Survey to members on Elementary Reporting
As you’ll remember from last week, we have developed a new STA survey for elementary teachers on reporting, which will only take a couple of minutes for you to complete, especially if you just fill out the checkboxes, which provides us with very useful data. Please go to If you have a bit of extra time, please also fill out comment boxes, because with direct feedback about frustrations and concerns we can advocate for you effectively. The survey is anonymous.

BCTF Membership card
This year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the BCTF, commemorative membership cards are available to all members. Just log in to the BCTF members’ portal and click on BCTF Member Card request form to have one mailed to your home.

STA Convention 2017!
Your volunteer organizing committee is hard at work already, planning to make this year’s STA Convention another excellent event. If you would like to offer a workshop, lead an excursion or facilitate a session of any kind on your passion in any area of teaching, please submit your proposal to

February 17th Focus Day
Save the date! The STA/SD36 Focus Day Committee has been working hard to plan an inspiring Professional Development day. The title for our event is The Nature of Learning and Identity. There will be a variety of workshops for both elementary and secondary teachers, and Dr Catherine McGregor from UVic will be returning to be our Keynote speaker. We are looking forward to seeing you on February 17, 2017. Watch for more details coming to your school after the winter break. Registration will open January 27th.

Social Justice Videos
You may already know that we have a small SJ DVD library organized by the STA International Solidarity Committee to provide Surrey teachers access to documentaries for home or classroom use. Check out what we have on offer at All you need to do to borrow is email Julia MacRae and she will pop it in the courier to you immediately.

BCTF Provincial Social Justice Conference
Equal is not enough. Equity and Inclusion for All. Feb 10-11 at The Radisson Hotel in Richmond. Excellent PD opportunity. Keynote speakers: Carmen Aguirre and Vanessa Richards.

Covering Classes for Colleagues
Many teachers are asked to help out their colleagues by covering for them when they have to be out of the school for a field trip, game, or special event. This is a challenging situation and sometimes teachers feel pressured to give up their valuable prep time when in fact they need it to do their work. Teachers should always ask administration for release time for school-sponsored events. The District and our school communities benefit from many extra-curricular activities that teachers provide, but they should not be done at the expense of our hard-won prep time. The union will also be advocating with the district for support in providing release time for these events.

Our RESTORED Collective Agreement Language
Attached you will find our restored language (with no strike throughs, making it easier to read and appreciate). Staff reps are encouraged to hold a study session with teachers at your school to review the language and what it will mean at your site. For those of you who worked prior to our language being stripped, this is an opportunity to share your experiences with colleagues about teaching prior to 2002.

Imagine how your daily classroom life will change when the maximum numbers are re-implemented:
Primary 1 (Kindergarten) ……………………………………… 20 students
Primary Split/Multi-age (Grades 1-3)………………. 22 students
Primary 2-4 (Grades 1-3). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . …. . .22 students
Primary 4/Intermediate 1 (Grade 3/4 split)………. 25 students
Intermediate Split/Multi-age (Grades 4-7) ………….. 26 students
Intermediate 1-4 (Grades 4-7) ………………………………… 29 students
Secondary English Class ………………………………………….. 25 students
H.E. Labs & I.E. Shops ……………………………………………….. 24 students
Secondary Class (Grades 8-12) ………………………………. 30 students

As well as classroom maximums, we have restored language to limit numbers of special needs students in a class, and adjust the maximum numbers down when special needs students are added. Read the attachment for all the details!

Seeds of Social Justice
December 1–10 is a continuation of the 16 Days of Action for Ending Violence against Women. The BCTF resource What You Can Do (see attachment) provides a list of recommended activities for these dates. The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women on December 6 falls on the 17th anniversary of the massacre of female students at L’École Polytechnique in Montreal.

International Migrants’ Day
is on December 18. For a variety of reasons, many families living in BC have no official immigration status. Fear of deportation prevents many families from enrolling their children in schools. The BCTF supports the sanctuary school campaign, which advocates for allowing parents to enroll their children in school without proof of residency. Learn about this campaign on the School for All Facebook page. The section “Getting a Local Policy Passed” on the BCTF member portal contains information and resources to support you in advocating for a sanctuary school policy in your district.

White Ribbon Campaign
The White Ribbon Campaign is a means for men to speak out against violence against women, because for too long, violence against women has been seen as a ‘women’s issue’. By now your school has received an information poster as well as an envelope of white ribbons- for our male colleagues to don this week as a symbol to demonstrate they are against violence against women. The campaign culminates Dec 6th, so this is the week to wear the ribbons! It starts with you, is a great resource for “teaching boys and young men how to achieve consent, set boundaries, use respectful communication in all their relationships and value women and girls is something we can all do.”

The 14th Annual Shoe Memorial December 6th
This memorial will take place on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to commemorate December 6. This date has been declared Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It commemorates the 14 engineering students in Montreal who were killed simply because they were women.

Joke of the week
Q: What do turtles do when they graduate?
A: They shellebrate.

This week’s joke was submitted by Chris Stolz. If you would like to participate in joke of the week, please submit a short, clean, (but non necessarily education-related) joke to Gioia Breda at . If your joke is drawn for publication, your name will then be entered into a draw for a gift card at the end of the month! *We NEED more jokes! Please keep them coming!

Calendar of Events:
November 28-December 2 – BC Federation of Labour Convention
December 6 – Executive Committee meeting
December 6 – Day of Action for Violence Against Women
December 14 – STARA meeting
December 16 – Last day of school before winter break

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016. Filed in Category: Monday Memos

Go Back To -> Monday Memos